People love using mobile apps. Users are always on the lookout for new and improved apps and features. The total number of mobile apps downloads in 2017 was around 197 billion. This number is set to increase to almost 205 billion in 2018.
Several marketers are experimenting with their app experience and are investing a great deal of money so that people can discover them with ease. In 2015, companies spent a whopping $3 billion on app install advertising.
There is fierce competition and to beat it, marketers want to improve customer experience. Surprisingly, almost 25% of the customers never return to an app after opening it once. One of the main reason why they never come back is that they do not like its design. If you want to make a great design, you will have to follow certain design principles. Here are the key features to incorporate into a successful app:
Step No 1: Separate Data From Opinion
The scientist Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” This is especially true in app design. One of the significant problems designers encounter with user experience is presuming that their ideas are intuitive. Developing a design based on their opinion or instinct is not good. Designers need to understand that they are not creating a design for themselves but are making it for others.
Without any doubt, User Experience is a scientific discipline. That means designers offer designs that they base on evidence rather than opinions. Designers need to base their opinions on research, heuristics, data and industry best practices. The best way to ensure this is to involve their team in the decision-making process of design. They can help differentiate data from personal opinion.
Step 2: Remove the Clutter
User attention is one of the most precious resources, and you should allocate information accordingly. When you clutter the interface, you provide the user with too much unnecessary information. The screen will look a lot more complicated with every button, image and text box that you add. As a designer, you need to get rid of everything that you think is unnecessary from the app.
When you reduce the clutter, you will help improve comprehension. As a simple rule of thumb, a designer needs to ensure that there is only one primary action per screen. It means every screen that you are going to design should only support a single action of real value. When you do this, users can quickly learn to navigate the app. Remember that a hundred clear screens are far better than one cluttered screen.
Uber, for example, follows this principle as they know the goal of the user is to find and hire a cab. They use the GPS to track down the location of the user. They do not add any other information on the screen to overwhelm the user. The only request you find on the page is to enter your drop location.
Step 3: Navigation Should Be Self-Evident
Users like apps that are easy to navigate. When an app has good navigation in place, it seems like an invisible hand is in place to guide users through the app. Even when you have the coolest content or feature in the app, it is useless if people cannot find it. These are the principles of good mobile navigation.
- Mobile navigation should be coherent. Using proper signifiers (right visual metaphors) is necessary to avoid explaining to the users what they should do next. The navigation elements that you use as an icon should lead the user to a proper destination.
- Make sure that the mobile navigation in the app is consistent. Do not place the navigation control in a different location or hide it on different pages. The users can disorient themselves from the app when it becomes confusing.
- Mobile Navigation should be able to tell the user where exactly he is in the app. Do not fail to indicate this information to the user. Most of the mobile apps fail when it comes to this particular feature.
Step 4: Design a Seamless Experience
Always think of the mobile design in isolation. Users want a seamless experience across mobile, tablet and desktop devices, and accomplishing this requires mobile-specific features. For example, when you consider Apple Music, the design of the mobile app is very different from the desktop application. But the most important thing that you will not fail to notice is that the mobile and desktop apps ensure that their users have a seamless experience.
Step 5: Design Tap-Targets In a User-Friendly Manner
Recognise the fact that the smaller touch targets are difficult for users to click than the larger ones. When you design the mobile interface, make sure that the targets are big enough for users to click with ease. Always ensure that the controls measure around 7-10mm in size. Only then can users tap on them accurately, because the edges of the target are visible to them. Since this is providing them with clear visual feedback, users know that they are precisely hitting the target.
Step 6: Ensure That the Interface Elements are Visible
The best way to achieve this is by using the color and contrast method. Pick primary, secondary and accent colors for the app that support the usability. Make sure that there is sufficient color contrast present between the elements as it will help users with impaired vision to view and use the app with ease. Also, ensure that there is sufficient contrast between the font color and background. These are the recommendations that are suggested by W3C:
- Small text needs to have a contrast ratio of 4:5:1 against its background.
- Large text (which is at 14 pt bold/ 18pt regular and up) needs to have a contrast ratio of 3:1 against its background.
Having enough contrast in your mobile app is necessary. Some users might be outdoors with bright sun exposure. Having sufficient color contrast will help them to view things with ease. You should follow the same recommended ratios when creating icons.
These are some great principles to get you started on designing a successful mobile app.